Toward a new paradigm for transport in cities: Let’s see what Carlos Pardo has to say

brain2The construction of a well-defined, broadly accepted agenda for New Mobility  until the present time has been sadly lacking. But what we and a numb er of our international colleagues have managed to develop over the last two decades is a certain number of agreed basic principles spanning many different areas and kinds of operational situations, but somehow until now we have failed to put them all together into a well-defined, convincing operational and policy package. We think of this as the move toward a new paradigm for transport in cities – and it all starts with . . . slowing down.

Today I would like to extract and comment on some of the graphics and thoughts developed by our colleague Carlos Felipe Pardo in a presentation which he entitled “The psychology of urban mobility”. I have extracted from his presentation three sets of images which I would now like to present you and comment briefly. (For the full original presentation please click here.)

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Paris to limit speeds to 30 km/hr over entire city

france paris 30 kph signThe just-elected new Mayor of Paris, Madame Anne Hidalgo, has prepared a revolutionary sustainable mobility project whereby virtually all of the streets of the city will be subject to a maximum speed limit of 30 km/hr.

The only exceptions in the plan are a relatively small number of major axes into the city and along the two banks of the Seine, where the speed limit will be 50 km/hr, and the city’s hard pressed ring road (périphérique) where the top permissible speed has recently been reduced from 80 to 70 km/hr. At the other end of the slowth spectrum are a certain number of “meeting zones” (zones de rencontre) spotted around the city in which pedestrians and cyclists have priority but mix with cars which are limited to a top speed of 20 km/hr. A veritable révolution à la française.

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Obligatory National Cycling License (A Modest Proposal)

World Streets, together with a number of our readers and supporters, including city cyclists and others working in the sector, UK cyclist traffichave decided to take a public position on obligatory National Cycling Licenses. And that around the world the appropriate agencies and legislative groups, city by city and country by country, will step forward one at a time and when they are ready to pass into their law a requirement that certain road users must take and pass a rigorous National Cycling License examination.

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Getting away with M U R D E R

In memoriam 2013.

Streetsblog: Doing its job year after year in New York City.

Each year our friends over at STREETSblog in New York City publish a heart-rending testimonial to the mayhem that automobiles have wrought over the year on their city’s streets and the cost in terms of lives lost by innocent pedestrians usa ghost bike photoand cyclists. Putting names, faces and human tragedy to what otherwise takes the form of dry numbers, faceless hence quickly forgettable statistics is an important task. We can only encourage responsible citizens and activists in every city on the planet to do the same thing, holding those public officials (and let’s not forget, “public servants”) responsible for what goes on under their direct control.

Who is doing this job in your city?

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Laying the Base for Public Bicycle Sharing in Penang

As we are seeing in these pages Penang in general and Georgetown in particular Penang bike graffitiare giving serious attention to the possibility of creating a public bicycle system for the city. As a first step they have issued a Request for Proposals which is shortly to come online. This is a great thing because there are many reasons to create conditions for safe and agreeable cycling on city streets across the state.

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Come out and claim the road – by Sunita Narain

india bicycle dovesI write this column from my bed, recovering from an accident that broke my bones. I was hit by a speeding car when cycling. The car fled the scene, leaving me bleeding on the road. This is what happens again and again, in every city of our country, on every road as we plan without care for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. These are the invisible users. They die doing nothing more than the most ordinary thing like crossing a road. I was more fortunate. Two cars stopped, strangers helped me and took me to hospital. I got treatment. I will be back fighting fit.

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Learning curves (Getting on the right side of them)

This is a wonderful little video  that looks without any pretense and with limited means at a local roundabout project on Main Street USA. It is worth your attention on at least four grounds. First, because roundabouts make great good sense in cities and we need a lot more of them.  Second, and not to forget, they offer real technical challenges that need to be met with skill. Third, they are organic, i.e., learning projects, i.e., New Mobility par excellence.  And finally,  they need to be sold to all involved (which many times is not just a one-shot information pitch). The wisdom of the young team behind this project is to be commended, and emulated.

Current conditions for cycling STOP Britain cycling!!!

France-paris-velib-tourTransport in cities is a steep uphill affair. If we ever are to transform the quality of the mobility arrangements in our cities, there are certain basic truths about it that need to be repeated again and again. By different people, in different places and in different ways.  Until we win.

Cycling in most cities:  You and I know it. It is broke. It cannot be “fixed”.  It needs to be reinvented from the street up. All of which is easy enough to say, but what in concrete terms does that mean? This article which appeared in the Guardian a few days back by Peter Walker,  reports on the testimony of Dave Horton a cycling sociologist who pounds the table on five basic truths of cycling in cities. Continue reading

Signals, Perception, Behavior : Questions, Blurs and Hints

In transportation circles, most often in Europe but not uniquely there, we often hear the term “behavior modification”, which is usually brandished as something brain2that somebody else has to learn to do and cope with. More often than not this matter of behavior modification when it comes to how, when and where people drive cars, but we can also hear about it with reference to pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers and street denizens. And as we can see from the results, this matter of behavior and modification turns out to be quite a challenge. Continue reading

Letter from Bangalore: The Derelict Mile

Sujaya Rathi  reports from Bangalore:
india-bangalore-pedestria woman crossingPrivate vehicles in India have seen an unprecedented growth in past two decades and there is no sign of slowing down.  Many initiatives to curb the trend have not been successful.  This article highlights an important aspect that attribute to the above unsustainable phenomenon, which has been ignored: “The Derelict Mile”.
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The long wait at the many unnecessary traffic lights in Germany may soon be over. Communities nationwide are exploring the use of alternative traffic control systems, such as roundabouts and zebra stripes, to resolve the traffic light’s growing issues of expense and safety. Among groups in favour of a large-scale switch, the German Cyclists’ Federation (ADFC) has a prominent voice. “We absolutely support the trend,” said ADFC traffic expert Wilhelm Hörmann. Hörmann added that traffic lights provide a false illusion of safety, pointing to the dangers of impatient drivers and children who cross the street despite there being a red light. Consultant Jürgen Berlitz of the ADAC German automobile club, argued that roundabouts are not only safer, but more efficient than traffic lights.  (Thanks to Ian Perry for the heads-up)

* Click here for article. Continue reading

Brief: The long wait at the many unnecessary traffic lights in Germany may soon be over

From the editor: Safe Streets? Who cares?

It is a truly dreadful thing for anyone, me for instance, to lay on you anything as hackneyed as: a picture is worth a thousand words. But let me run the risk and show you a couple of pictures and leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. The topic is the first round of reactions to our start-up 2012 collaborative project aiming at clarifying the concept of Safe Streets from a strategic planning and policy perspective. Continue reading

Carlos Pardo: On Slow(er) transport?

I was thinking that, since the concept of “slow” has been around for a while, but applied to concepts such as food and “living” in general, one could think of applying it to transport policies and projects… that is, create the term “slow transport” or “slower transport”, but responsibly. Below are some notes that could generate ideas towards that direction: where the concept comes from, why and how we can apply it, and some obstacles or possible problems. I will be as brief as possible, since I could write for ages about this. My main concern would be to develop a (or yet another) way of justifying the promotion and development of sustainable transport. And my main worry is that we could just generate a new empty term related to urban transport (we have enough already). Continue reading

Safer Streets LA – Wrap a couple of spare neurons around this one

From the 2012 Safe Streets Challenge project:
If you are (a) into safer streets and (b) ready to dig in to understand that things out there are not necessarily what one might necessarily think, may we suggest that you check out here this slightly counterintuitive piece that was posted this morning in our parallel Safe Streets project. Continue reading

Defining principles: Remembering Mrs. Jacobs

As we move ahead with the Safe Streets project over the course of the year ahead, there will be a small group of people to whom we shall be referring from time to time who have, through their insights and contributions, basically redefined the entire field of transport in cities. And Mrs. Jane Jacobs is of course one of this wonderful group. We are honored to be able to share these leadership profiles with you, and for Mrs. Jacobs we pass the word to Michael Mehaffy who reminds us of her contributions and takes on her critics head-on. Continue reading

Safe Streets defining principles: Remembering Donald Appleyard

Safe Streets is a collaborative worldwide project which will aggressively network over the whole of 2012 in our search for shaping ideas with some of the leading thinkers, groups and programs in the field , looking to the future but also not forgetting the past — including drawing attention to the defining contributions of a certain number of leading thinkers. teachers, writers and sustainability activists, who are no longer with us but who through their work have laid down some of the most important principles which we now need to recall and take into account as we move to create a broad common framework for sustainable streets all over the world. For those of you who do not already know about the formidable vision and work of Donald Appleyard, we have pulled together a collection of reference points that should give you a good first introduction, and at the end of this piece some additional reference materials for those wishing to go further (as indeed you should).
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Man – > Technology – > Speed – > Distance – > Destruction of proximity

This out of control  bulimic spiral begins with man’s uncontrollable tool-making itch, and from thence ,and unknown to us at the time, to tools which take on transforming lives of their own – one of which in the domain of mobility being ever-increasing speed, which in turn leads to ever-increasing distances, and which finally and in largely unnoticed fatal tandem destroys the reality and oh-so important qualities of proximity and community.  That’s the deal and facing all this is the challenge of this collaborative project for 2012. What we thought was merely more convenient transportation, has snuck up on us and turned into very inconvenient and altogether unanticipated transformation.

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Combating the Myth That Complete Streets Are Too Expensive

 from Streetsblog DC takes a good look at this often-advanced view that, good as they may be for a wide range of reasons, the fact is that we just can’t afford complete streets. One more great reason not to change, eh?

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Safe Streets 2012 Challenge: Let’s take a step back to get some context

Joel Crawford of Carfree Cities writes:
“Cities in the modern era have been overrun by cars and trucks. Streets have been stolen from human uses by invasive street users. Not only is this method unlikely to be sustained into the future, it also robs society of some of its most important public spaces. Carfree cities are a delightful solution to many different problems at once.” With that, let’s have a look at his short film that bangs these points home.

Occupy All Streets: The Role of Carfree Cities in a More Sustainable World from J.H. Crawford on Vimeo. Continue reading

The Safe Streets Challenge: 2012 – 2015

After considerable and at times quite contentious discussions over the last months with colleagues around the world through various discussion fora, social media, programs, conferences and personal visits, we have decided to make one of the principal themes of our work here at World Streets for the coming year that of Safe Streets.

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Missing in action: “Zone 30″ in WP in English???

Oops. I have been asked to open the plenary  on “Urban mobility: Achieving social efficiency” at next week’s Smart Cities conference in Barcelona (full details on which available here , and one of the central themes of the talk is the high importance of taking a strategic approach to slowing down and smoothing traffic in cities.   As part of my due diligence I decided to check out the Zone 30 and Twenty is Plenty entries in Wikipedia. Where I found to my disappointment: (a) that there was no entry on Zone 30 in English (and if in French, German, Italian and Dutch, not (yet) in Portuguese, Spanish, etc.) and (b) nothing at all on the important Twenty Is Plenty program out of the UK. Continue reading

Weekend musing: The bicycle helmet rears its ugly head

Under our World City Bike program we have for several years now been looking at the yes/no sudden-death helmet issue in the context of public bike projects . If you click here you will find several postings that make an effort to report in a balanced manner (to the extent possible) on the issues, trade-offs and implications of creating legal requirements that force all cyclists to use helmets. An absolutely well-intentioned position which has turned out to be no less than the cold hand of death strangling nascent public bicycle projects in various projects around the world. Pity to spend all that public money on a nice bike sharing system and then find that they are not being widely used while honest citizens add pounds of fat to what should be their lithe frames. In the event, here are a handful of short videos from YouTube that take a pretty good whack at it from several perspectives. Have a look and decide for yourself.

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More on public, private and social space. Andrew Curry reports from occupied London – Part II

Hopefully we have learned at least one hard lesson of life, and that is that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. And here right before our eyes we have a case in point with the Occupy movements that are sweeping Europe and North America, a public crisis that is most unexpectedly taking place on “public land”. And then suddenly, with no advance notice, everything starts to morph and the issues involved start to encompass not only the continuing unchecked egregious abuses of the financial community but also important (for democracy) issues of public  space — one of our consistent concerns here at World Streets. So in an effort to make sure that we do not miss the opportunity behind this crisis, we pass the word back to Andrew Curry so that he can build further on his article under this title earlier this week Continue reading

A Mayor’s-Eye View of Sustainable Transportation

The letter that follows is, as you will quickly surmise, not an actual communication from one elected official in one case, but rather a composite, the distillation of experience that I have had over these last years of trying to push the sustainable transportation agenda in many parts of the world, almost always in conjunction and in dialogue with mayors and other city leaders. As you will see, it is not that they are adverse to or not interested in the concepts behind sustainable transportation and sustainable cities. It is just that they have a great many other things on their mind, including staying on top day after day of the considerable challenges of managing their city — and, in not very long, running once again for reelection. This is the political reality of which those of us who would be agents of change must be aware, that politics is the art of the possible. Now let’s turn the stage over to our mayor:

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